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Child Custody Battles

What to expect during custody disputes

The Custody ``BATTLE``

Unfortunately, a battle is exactly what it may turn into if you and your ex cannot work together and co-parent. Before you reach the point of court intervention to decide custody, think long and hard. A custody battle thrusts the child into the middle of your controversy. Why are you fighting for custody? Are you fighting FOR custody or fighting so that your ex-spouse DOESN’T HAVE custody? Is it in the best interest of the child for you to take the course of action? Are you thinking of what is best for you, or for your child? If you’ve determined that it’s the right thing to do -for the children- to go forward, what can you expect when the court intervenes?

The court will take into consideration the best interest of the child when making the decision.

If the court feels that neither parent is acting in the best interest of the child an attorney for the minor child may be appointed to help in making decisions on the behalf of the child.

Depending on the age of the child, their wishes may or may not be taken into consideration. Some states strongly take into consideration the wishes of the child depending on their age, some states do not consider the child's wishes at all, without regard to age.

Traditionally, the judicial system leaned towards deciding in favor of the mother in custody cases. However, with more women pursuing full time careers and more fathers staying at home also, this trend has been changing. It is no longer assumed that the mother is the primary caregiver.

Traditionally, the judicial system leaned towards deciding in favor of the mother in custody cases. However, with more women pursuing full time careers and more fathers staying at home also, this trend has been changing. It is no longer assumed that the mother is the primary caregiver.

Unless the situation is so obvious that one parent should have custody rights over the other (such as in drug abuse or physical abuse) a court ordered independent evaluation may be ordered. The evaluation is usually done by a court appointed mental health professional such as a psychologist or a social worker. A thorough evaluation can include the following: interviews with all the parties involved (individually and possibly with the parent and child together); psychological testing of both parents and the child; review of school records and or conversations with teachers: review of medical records and developmental history; review of legal records, such as the papers filed regarding the divorce, any possible domestic disputes and any criminal records of either party involved. Be prepared for the evaluation to take at least four to six weeks if not longer. Be prepared for a time consuming and costly battle.

No matter how strongly you believe you would be the better parent and should have custody of the children, be prepared for the court to decide against you. Be ready to accept the court’s decision and move forward to work with your ex-spouse to raise your children in a way that is best for them.

 

NEVER use a custody battle as a chip in negotiating a better financial settlement. Once the “battle” has begun, everyone will be scarred including the children. While children are resilient, the less conflict the better for them. So think long and hard about the consequences of your actions and always keep the children’s best interest in mind, long and short term.

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Family Law

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